Japan: A Photo a Day from Two Weeks of Hiking and City Hopping

I have long been drawn to Japan’s cultural and spiritual history, hypermodern cities, food scene, and hiking culture. The country also provides an important contextual backdrop for my family history, as my maternal grandparents grew up and lived under Japanese colonial rule in Taiwan and spoke the Japanese language. For several years, I have anticipated finally experiencing Japan in person for the first time and gaining a broader perspective of the country’s influence on the Asia Pacific region.

I initially planned to organize my trip around three legs, split evenly between (1) the Greater Tokyo area, (2) the Japanese Alps in Central Honshu, and (3) Osaka as a home base for the Kansai region (Kyoto, Nara, etc.). However, due to a combination of weather and transit complications in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis, I wound up cutting short my time in the Alps, taking instead a two-day detour in Hiroshima and Miyajima.

Overall, I enjoyed a rich, full two weeks in Japan, meeting up with a number of old friends and making some new ones along the way — and with the ascension of Emperor Naruhito and the culmination of the Rugby World Cup as the backdrop. Ultimately, I found that two weeks was enough for only a first taste of Japan, and I look forward to reading and learning more.

Day 1: Fighting off jet lag with a Sunday afternoon walk through Ueno Park, Tokyo
Day 2: A quiet Monday morning in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo
Day 3: Capping off a day of Tokyo neighborhood-hopping with a stroll in trendy Kichijōji
Day 4: Part of the Tokyo skyline as viewed from the Bunkyō Civic Center 
Day 5: Hints of autumn foliage in the highland valley of Kamikōchi, Nagano Prefecture
Day 6: Rainy morning walk on the grounds of Matsumoto Castle, Nagano Prefecture
Day 7: After a rainy hike, a view of Seto Inland Sea from Mount Misen, Miyajima Island
Day 8: Hiroshima City / the Ōta River delta
Day 9: A view of the Tōji Temple from the Gion district in Kyoto
Day 10: The electric downtown neighborhood of Dōtonbori in Osaka
Day 11: The quaint Yoshikien Garden in Nara
Day 12: The iconic Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion), a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto
Day 13: Wandering the alleys of Nakazakichō, Osaka
Day 14: Sunset over Tokyo’s Chūō ward, viewed from Tsukishima, Tokyo